FWD: science career horror stories

Dave Krieger (dave@communities.com)
Tue, 8 Apr 1997 15:19:00 -0700

>>Date: 21 Mar 1997 19:13:35 GMT
>>From:ahale@nmsu.edu (Alan Hale)
>>Subject: an open letter from Alan Hale
>>Organization: NMSU Astronomy
>>Newsgroups: sci.astro.amateur
>>An open letter to the scientists of my generation:
>>I am Alan Hale, the co-discoverer of Comet Hale-Bopp which, as I'm
>>sure you're aware, is getting a tremendous amount of media attention
>>at this time. Like I'm sure is true for many of you, I was inspired
>>by the scientific discoveries and events taking place during my childhood
>>to pursue a career in science only to find, after completing the rigors
>>of undergraduate and graduate school, that the opportunities for us
>>to have a career in science are limited at best and are which I usually
>>describe as "abysmal." Based upon my own experiences, and those of you
>>with whom I have discussed this issue, my personal feeling is that,
>>unless there are some pretty drastic changes in the way that our society
>>approaches science and treats those of us who have devoted our lives to
>>making some of our own contributions, there is no way that I can, with
>>a clear conscience, encourage present-day students to pursue a career
>>in science. It really pains me a great deal to say something like that,
>>but I feel so strongly about this that I have publicly made this
>>statement at almost every opportunity I have been given.
>>I am trying to use the media attention that is currently being focused
>>upon me to raise awareness of this state of affairs, and perhaps start
>>to effect those changes that will allow me to convey a more positive
>>message to the next generation. So far, I'm sensing a certain reluctance
>>among the media to discuss this issue, as they seem far more interested
>>in items which I consider to be irrelevant and unimportant. But I intend
>>to keep hammering away at this, and I'd like to believe that eventually
>>some are going to sit up and take notice. I am also attempting to schedule
>>meetings with some of our government leaders, to see if I can at least
>>get some acknowledgement from Washington that this is a problem that needs
>>to be dealt with.
>>My reason for writing to you is to ask your help. I know that I'm not alone
>>in being frustrated about the current prospects for pursuing any kind of
>>decent career within science, and I'm quite sure that many of you have
>>"horror stories" about your searches for decent employment that are quite
>>similar to my own. I'd like to hear them. I'd especially like to hear from
>>those of you who are on your second or third or fourth post-doc, or who
>>have left the field as a result of the employment situation, or who have
>>experienced severe personal difficulties (e.g., break-up of a marriage,
>>etc.). I realize that some of these might be painful to discuss, but I'd
>>like to show that we are not a bunch of impersonal statistics, but that
>>we're human beings trying to make an honest living and perhaps make a
>>contribution or two to society while we're at it. Speaking of statistics,
>>though, if you received any information about the numbers of applicants to
>>some of the positions you applied to -- which was often a 3-digit number
>>in my case -- I'd like to hear that, too.
>>Please e-mail your stories to me at ahale@nmsu.edu, with a subject line of
>>"horror stories" or something like that. Please let me know if you would
>>prefer to remain anonymous when I share these stories with the press and
>>the government. Also, please pass this message on to any of your friends
>>and colleagues who might be interested in sharing their stories with me, and
>>keep in mind that I would like to receive stories from as many scientific
>>disciplines as possible. (Because of the amount of e-mail traffic I'm
>>receiving these days, along with everything else that's going on, I probably
>>won't be able to acknowledge each message individually.)
>>Thank you for your time, and I hope to hear from you. Perhaps, with the
>>opportunity we have before us right now, we have the chance to make a
>>Alan Hale